Apple AirPods, that is headphones which for some time have become synonymous with headphones without a connection cable. It is true that their uniqueness ended very quickly, and today any self-respecting manufacturer of this type of accessory offers its counterpart, but they still remain one of the most important accessories for Apple smartphones. Does the mere fact that they operate within the Apple ecosystem mean they are worth buying? Are these the best in-ear headphones for iPhone? I’m afraid not necessarily.
Tim Cook and the rest of the leaders of American society would surely wish that Owners of iPhone smartphones first chose accessories also produced by Apple. Whether you are talking about a charger, a watch, a case or a headset, you will find it all in the manufacturer’s offer. However, I doubt that these products are the right choice in all situations. Please don’t get me wrong. I do not question the quality of Apple accessories, even if in some cases it would probably be justified (especially Lightning cables). I just want to say that accessories of similar or even better quality can be found in the offer of other manufacturers.
However, let’s leave aside the question of cables or a case. I would like to focus on headphones, because it was some information that has been circulating in the technology industry in recent weeks that has inspired me to think. Is Apple unable to manufacture headphones? Or maybe the competition is doing much better? I feel like something went wrong as planned.
2nd generation Apple AirPods – cheaper is better?
Can headphones costing 649 PLN be called cheaper? Yes, as long as we only consider Apple’s offer. It’s certainly a lot, and it’s only getting worse. Their theoretical successor, the 3rd generation AirPods model, costs 949 PLN on the manufacturer’s website, and an even more expensive variant, AirPods Pro – 1249 PLN. I won’t mention the AirPods Max in this document – I’m only focusing on the TWS headphones. Yes, in most popular electronics stores the price of the basic model is slightly lower, around 600 PLN, and sometimes there are even greater discounts, but it’s still a lot, especially considering the conditions of the market. Why am I mentioning this? I would like pay attention to the fact that it is the cheapest model that sells the best. Far too well, according to Apple.
What are the consequences ? You can see them, for example, in the sales results of individual AirPods models – this is the information that made me write this text. It turned out that the manufacturer was forced to make drastic business decisions. As reported by one of Apple’s most famous analysts, Ming-Chi Kuo, the American company has decided to significantly reduce orders for the 3rd generation AirPods model. According to the Kuo, there is even a reduction of more than 30% for Q2 and Q3 2022. Where does this decision come from? This is because the earlier, less expensive model still sells well and is much more readily chosen by customers than the newer one.
The same analyst also mentions that Apple plans to avoid a similar situation in the future. At the time of the release of the 2nd generation AirPods Pro model, the currently produced generation will disappear from the market for good. Does that mean the AirPods 2 are better than their successors? It might seem that not at all. They don’t offer surround sound, aren’t waterproof, and can’t be charged wirelessly. In terms of sound, they also stand out slightly. So why are people looking for them? For two reasons, I believe. First, because they are significantly cheaper. Second, because they deliver everything customers expect of them. They reproduce decent quality audio, while remaining fully integrated into the Apple ecosystem, making it easy to switch between devices paired to a given user’s account. It doesn’t seem like more is needed. And if you need it, especially in terms of sound quality? You may need to look elsewhere – at the competition.
The best headphones for the iPhone, or what?
Like probably the vast majority of smartphone users, I can’t imagine not using headphones, especially wireless ones. They have enough advantages to achieve them voluntarily and often. They’re very comfortable, play quite well, and allow for trouble-free phone calls and joining remote meetings or teleconferences. For this reason, the 2nd generation AirPods have become the headphones I use every day. However, I did not reach them right away. For many years I have used competing solutions from manufacturers such as Samsung or Jabra. This state of affairs lasted until the day when I decided to give the most expensive in-ear headphones in Apple’s offer – AirPods Pro a chance. But it only took me a few days to bounce them off the wall and send them back to the store where I bought them. It was mainly because I couldn’t help feeling the amount of overpaid products I had purchased.
All the while, I was using AirPods Pro and Jabra Elite Active 75t in parallel. Currently, there is a gap between them in terms of price. You have to pay up to 1249 PLN for AirPods Pro, while headphones from the Danish manufacturer cost 499 PLN. Worse, other than the fact that I could take advantage of the integration with the Apple ecosystem, I didn’t feel like I was using a better product. Waterproof? It’s here and here. Active noise reduction? Also available for both products. Call quality? Jabra is famous for keeping it at a sensational level. Musical quality? Although this is a somewhat subjective review, I have the overwhelming feeling that the Danish competition, which is more than half the price, performs better.
Worse for Apple, I am aware that the advantage of other competitors’ products may be even greater. Many believe that the best in-ear wireless headphones are Sony’s WF-1000XM3 and WF-1000XM4. While the newer model costs comparable to the AirPods Pro, the slightly older model, like the Jabra headphones, is significantly cheaper.
These are just two, the first examples of headphones, in my opinion, better than the AirPods Pro, and at the same time much cheaper. As finding them was no more difficult, the answer to the above question seems to be personal. One has to look for the best iPhone headphones outside of Apple’s offering, even at the cost of full ecosystem compatibility.
Apple’s only sensitive headphones?
Let’s go back for a moment to the headphones, for which, as I wrote above, I decided to use them. Despite the failure, which in my case turned out to be AirPods Pro, I didn’t give up on Apple headphones. I opted for the basic model, for which I paid much less than previously ordered with a note Pro. I use them on a par with headphones from Jabra and I must honestly say that I’m much more satisfied with them than the more expensive model. The sound quality still meets my reasonable expectations, and I can only write superlatives about ease of use. Well, in-ear headphones are definitely more comfortable for me than in-ear headphones, which I just found out about.
However, I won’t decide to give up my tried and true headset, sort of my favorite headset produced by Jabra. I need it, first of all, in situations where ANC technology is needed. Sometimes it’s better to cut out the outside noise and focus on the music, and sometimes stay relatively quiet. They are also useful to me as earphones with which I walk around and train at the gym. Although I never had the opportunity to check it, in case of unexpected rains for example, an increased resistance to flooding could be useful.
It is now time to summarize my considerations in a few words. Is Apple unable to manufacture headphones? Yes, it is possible, but the competition does it much better and, above all, cheaper. So which model to choose, having the choice between all the in-ear and in-ear headphones from Apple’s offer? Like the vast majority of buyers, I chose the cheapest model and I don’t regret my decision. The 2nd generation Apple AirPods aren’t great headphones, but they’re so good that I can honestly recommend them to anyone with an iPhone who doesn’t have them yet, but intends to buy them. In terms of convenience – it is definitely worth it.